New business alliance wants better, independent impact assessments

Twelve influential industry federations have joined forces to fire up the EU’s Lisbon agenda. In a common press statement they have attacked the deficiencies of the EU’s impact assessments for future policies.

In a first joint press release, the newly formed Alliance for a Competitive European Industry has urged the EU institutions to adopt a more systematic approach to business impact assessment, when discussing new EU policies.

According to the twelve major industry federations of the alliance, the quality of the EU’s current practices on impact assessments leaves much to be desired. Some of the deficiencies and concerns raised:

  • impact assessments are often a one-off exercise, whereas they should be regarded as a continuous process of evaluation;
  • not enough attention for alternative policy options (voluntary agreements, standards, communication campaigns);
  • when considering environmental and social benefits, subjective considerations instead of quantitative data play a role; a robust cost-effectiveness analysis would be better than a cost-benefit analysis alone;
  • lack of transparency, professionalism, independence and no quality control of these impact assessments.

The alliance’s position paper puts forward several recommendations as regards the process and the content of better impact assessments. Three of the main recommendations are:

  • more expertise and resources needed for the DGs having to deal with these assessments;
  • in the long term, an external body reporting to the Council and the Parliament should carry out these assessments;
  • as long as there is no external body, there is a need for an expert horizontal unit within the Secretariat General to provide a quality control.

The Alliance for a Competitive European Industry brings together the following industry federations: ACEA (the car industry federation), CEFIC (chemical industry), CEMBUREAU (cement), CEPI (paper), CIAA (food and drinks), Euratex (apparel and textile), Eurelectric (electricity), Eurofer (iron and steel), Eurometaux (metals), Europia (petroleum), ORGALIME (mechanical, electrical, electronics metalworking) and UNICE (employers confederation). Together they represent the interests of 6000 large companies and 1.7 million SMEs. They employ about 23 million people.

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